Not only do I consider myself a bit of a tech geek, but I specialize in a weird subset of tech geekiness: tech for the office. These are my top techy things to keep at the office — readers, what do you keep? (Check out our prior discussions on clothes to keep at the office, as well as food to keep at the office.)
1. Refrigerator — This was one of my all-time favorite tech purchases for my office (and it lasted forever). I bought a super, super small fridge for my office — so small it could barely fit a six-pack of Coke. I kept water and soda chilled, as well as cheese sticks, lemon juice, cheese, salad dressing — even leftover food. You can find them for around $50 (look up “mini refrigerator,” “portable refrigerator,” “travel refrigerator”) and up.
2. Extra chargers for your phone, Blackberry, and any other personal gadgets. I’ve never regretted the $40 or so the extra cord cost me.
3. Speakers for your iPod or iPhone. This doesn’t need a lot of explanation, but you may want to brush up on the etiquette of listening to music at the office, particularly when other people can hear it. For my own $.02, I think it’s fine to quietly listen to music if it’s after working hours, but “quietly” is the key — the person in the neighboring office should never have to come over and ask you to turn it down.
4. Phone headset. If you log lots of time on the phone — on conference calls or in meetings — a good headset might be worth an investment.
5. USB heated gloves (pictured above). If you have poor circulation and are always freezing, you may want to prepare for those long stretches in front of the computer by purchasing these USB-heated gloves. They plug into your computer and warm your hands as you type and click your way through the day.
6. Leechblock. I’ve written before of my affection for Leechblock to help keep you focused.
7. RescueTime. Seriously consider signing up for this service if you’re wasting a lot of time and wonder where it went — it logs every online activity.
8. Consider installing a bookmarklet for ShoppingNotes — if you see an item of clothing that you wish were on sale, you click the bookmarklet, and the free service monitors the price for any adjustment. I’ve gotten some sick deals by using this service!
9. LogMeIn. Talk with your boss about this, but LogMeIn lets you log into your office computer from home (or your home computer from your office).
10. XMarks. As someone who alternates between multiple computers, I love XMarks — it syncs my bookmarks across all of my computers (and browsers). This is handy for me, both because I have a crazy folder/filing system for some bookmarks, but also because I now don’t need to remember what device I originally found a new website. If you upgrade to the premium (paid) version of Xmarks, it will even sync your bookmarks to your iPhone, Android, or Blackberry.
Most businesses supply you with all the software you need. Still, I’ve had great success with a few programs and had to recommend them.
11. PDF Factory (or something similar). This program is hugely helpful if you sit far from the printer, if you want more control over picking up your printouts, or if you email a lot of PDF’d documents. (For the lawyers out there, it’s very helpful if you frequently review documents in .tif format, as well as if you print cases from Lexis or Westlaw.) Basically, when you click “print” you can choose to print to PDF Factory. The program opens a new window on your computer, and begins to compile a PDF. When you’ve finished printing, you can save the PDF to your hard drive, e-mail it to a coworker, and/or print it to your local printer.
12. Microsoft OneNote 2010 (or Evernote, if you’re comfortable with the cloud). This allows you to create “notebooks” that will be word searchable, printable, e-mailable, and so forth. I primarily find OneNote helpful in working on a project — planning a vacation or a wedding, decorating an apartment — but it’s also helpful in keeping track of restaurant reviews, recipes, articles full of gift ideas, and more. (I also find it useful on an organizational and environmental standpoint, because we now have a single place to put all those articles we used to just print out and leave in various places in our apartments.) (I prefer OneNote, but I know a lot of folks out there prefer Evernote for this kind of thing.)
13. Dragon NaturallySpeaking. This is pricier than the others, but this software is extremely helpful for those of you who practice the lost art of dictation. Dictating is a great skill to pick up for a variety of reasons — it’s much easier to summarize notes from all-day meetings via dictation, or to make sense of documents as you review them without constantly toggling between screens to be sure you’ve gotten the numbers and quotations exactly correct.
Readers, share your tech must-haves for the office!